Top of the Morning: New Syria Massacre; Military Intervention in Mali and DRC?

Top stories from DAWNS Digest. 

Word of A New Massacre in Syria

An activist group is reporting that some 200 people were killed in the central Hama region in an attack on a town called Tremseh. The town was shelled by government forces, then raided by pro-Assad militias from his Alawite ethnic group with some survivors shot execution style. If confirmed, this would be the worst mass atrocity since the uprsiing began nearly 18 months ago. “A convoy of vehicles from Alawite villages had parked outside the village early Thursday, including five trucks filled with soldiers, and began shooting. They were backed by tanks along the village’s eastern edge. Pro-Assad militiamen known as shabiha deployed on the western edge of the village, he said, and ‘fired at anyone or any car that tried to leave the village.’ The village lies just west of Hama, along a fault line running roughly parallel to the Orontes River between the highlands populated by Alawites and the plains dominated by Sunni Muslims, the majority in Syria and the bulk of the armed opposition. Should Syria descend into a full-blown civil war, as many now fear, experts expect the bloodletting to be especially fierce in the string of villages that run along that line because they are so religiously and ethnically mixed — not only Alawites and Sunnis but also Christians, Ismailis and other sects from the patchwork of Syria’s groups.” (NYT

International Military Intervention in Eastern Congo?

The M23 rebel group is inflicting a terrible toll in Eastern Congo. Running out of options, a regional group inked an agreement or foreign forces to help defeat the rebels. “The DRC, Rwanda and neighbouring states called on Thursday for the creation of an international military force to eliminate armed rebels in the DRC’s turbulent east. Their agreement, signed on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, proposes an internationally-backed military response to an offensive by rebels in the DRC’s North Kivu province, a political and ethnic tinderbox. The document was signed by the foreign ministers of nearly a dozen states of the Great Lakes region, made up of Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, and condemned recent advances by the M23 rebel movement and a rebellion by predominantly Hutu fighters of the FDLR insurgent group in North and South Kivu. It was not immediately clear in the text, to be presented to African heads of state at the Addis summit, where the troops would come from to establish the “neutral international force” that would take on the Congolese rebel groups.“ (Al Jazeera

…In the meantime, the UN peacekeeping mission is using  attack helicopters to shell rebel positions. (VOA

And…International Military Intervention in Mali?

The regional bloc ECOWAS has been pressing the Security Council to authorize military intervention to secure northern Mali from a patchwork of rebel groups. The Security Council last week did not rule out the option, but says it wants more details first. The French foreign minister, however raised the prospects of intervention in statements to reporters on Thursday. “Foreign powers will probably intervene militarily in Mali after al-Qaeda-linked militants took control of territory in the north of the West African country, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday. Regional and Western governments have compared the situation in Mali to Afghanistan, as a mix of local and foreign Islamists have hijacked a rebellion initially launched in January by secular Tuareg separatist rebels. “In the north, at one moment or another there will probably be the use of force,” Fabius said, noting that intervention would be African-led but supported by international forces.” (AlertNet

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